Research Seminar: “Plato’s Prosopon: Marsilio Ficino and Quattrocento Humanism” - Denis Robichaud (Notre Dame)


Location: Special Collections in the Hesburgh Library

The Italian Research Seminar

Denis Robichaud (Notre Dame) - “Plato’s Prosopon: Marsilio Ficino and Quattrocento Humanism”

Thursday January 31 at 4:30pm in Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Library


Were the Italian humanists of the Quattrocento philosophers, nascent philologists, or both? How can the study of Marsilio Ficino help us answer this question? With the exception of a very small but growing group of Renaissance scholars who could not only read Ancient Greek but had access to the Greek manuscripts of Plato and Plotinus, most readers in the Latin West encountered these texts through Ficino’s translations and commentaries. Ficino’s versions of Plato and Plotinus still remained dominant well into the 1800s, when diverse philologists like A. I. Bekker and G. F. Creuzer found them sound enough to publish along with the Greek text of their critical editions. This talk proposes to analyze case studies of Ficino's textual practices illustrating how he worked with Greek manuscripts to arrive at a printed Latin edition of the text. For example, it will show the humanist collating, doubting, and debating marginal variants in his Greek manuscripts, emending the text, and proposing exegetical and textual conjectures. Such a study does not explain Ficino’s finished work so much as delve into some of the philosophical and philological processes behind it. 


Ficino and humanist buddies - fresco

Denis Robichaud is Assistant Professor in the Program of Liberal Studies at Notre Dame. He works on Italian Humanists, including philosophy, philology, and rhetoric in the Renaissance. He has published on Marsilio Ficino, as well as Angelo Poliziano and Neoplatonic commentaries. His current research engages with various aspects of Renaissance humanism: the history of philosophy and philology, humanist commentary and textual practices (reading and writing), manuscript annotations, Ficino, Poliziano, Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola, and the fortune of classical and humanist texts. In 2012, he was a Frances A. Yates Fellow at the Warburg Institute in London, England.


The Italian Research Seminar, jointly organized by the Devers Program in Dante Studies and by Italian Studies at Notre Dame, aims to provide a regular forum for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and colleagues from other universities to present and discuss their current research. The Seminar is vigorously interdisciplinary, and embraces all areas of Italian history, language, and culture (from literature to film, from art history to music, and from anthropology to architecture), as well as perceptions of Italy, its achievements and its peoples in other national and international cultures. The Seminar constitutes an important element in the effort by Notre Dame's community of Italianists to promote the study of Italy and to serve as a strategic point of contact for all Italianists.